Clearly, none of us gets it all right or does it all right. I, for one, can assert that I can be downright selfish, arrogant, thoughtless, rude and complaining. I've been whiny, pushy, fearful, resentful and faithless. And, it's not like this all took place decades ago either!
The Bible agrees with me: "There is no one righteous, not even one." (Romans 3:10) (that would include me...) There's no one who is always noble, virtuous, pure and honorable.
However, the hardest part is when we're (as far as we can tell) ACTUALLY seeking to do the right thing.. - things to help others - things that better life for all - things that further a cause - things that seek to do what others can't do, won't do or refuse to do.... AND - get labeled as all the negative bad people words above... Either verbally or behind our backs.
Have you been there? The fact that you're reading this makes me think you have.
Here's the little read fine print of anyone with a dream, vision, mission, start-up or in any, I'm talking any position in leadership (parenting included!) - YOU WILL BE MISUNDERSTOOD.
One of my all time favorite theologian/philosopher's Soren Kierkegaard wrote in his "Journals," “People understood me so poorly that they don't even understand my complaint about them not understanding me."
Yes, it doesn't take much study to realize that most creatives, or leaders, or inventors or "out there" entrepreneurs... or even spouses - were misunderstood. "Pythagoras was misunderstood, and Socrates, and Jesus, and Luther, and Copernicus, and Galileo, and Newton, and every pure and wise spirit that ever took flesh. To be great is to be misunderstood." (Ralph Waldo Emerson)
SO... I still don't like it! And neither do you!!! It's the part of me that doesn't want to be like Socrates or Jesus. (Didn't Socrates kill himself? And Jesus was killed! Hmmmmm...)
We may have to just realize that IN THIS WORLD, WE WILL BE MISUNDERSTOOD.
As I ponder, I thought I'd share some WHY reasons people (at least at times) may misunderstand us - EVEN when our intentions are good and our heart is pure. EVEN when they are good people... not evil, malicious or bad, bad, bad to the bone.
Could it be.....
One time while having a discussion with Mindy (OK, it was an argument!) I was actually rehearsing an old argument I had with my own father... over and over again. It wasn't until she asked, "Who are you arguing with?" After a few seconds of real thought, I said, "My dad!" Wow! Who knew? Clearly not me!
Might they be seeing you as someone else?
They may be seeing you as, "Just another guy!" or "Just the way all women are!" Or "another" lawyer, politician, Democrat, Republican, Baptist, salesman, jock, rich kid, poor kid, black guy, white guy, Latino.....
Their defenses go up ... and it "ain't really you after all!"
They're rarely going to come out and say, "I am afraid that if you succeed, I may look bad" but it may be the real reality.
Change, even if it is really good change, challenges status-quo, complacency or just make things different. Most people don't do well with change, especially if it is severe, abrupt or something that affects their comfort zone.
Of course we can sometimes think to ourselves, "When you're mature - THEN you will be like me."
But sometimes, our thoughts may not be like their thoughts.
We may see things so black and white clearly in our vision, idea or way of doing things. For them, trying to wrap their mind around how we're thinking takes work. They'd rather not. And we may need to let them... or maybe not.
They may value peace, security, conservative things, liberal things.... and we don't. That may make them misunderstand us.
Finally, they may not be ready to offer what we're inviting them to offer. By rejecting us, they feel better than saying, "I'm not that generous right now" or ready to "buy in." It may be a matter of patience... or maybe not.
What do you think? Been misunderstood? Misunderstood now?
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